Founded by the Sisters of Loretto, under the direction of Mother Pancratia Bonfils, the college began as Loretto Heights Academy, a Catholic boarding school for girls. The campus, situated on high ground in southwest Denver, enjoys a commanding view of the mountains to the west.
Frank E. Edbrooke & Co. designed the 86-room Romanesque style main building which opened in November 1891. The walls are of heavy red sandstone and the irregular plan of this imposing three-story structure includes a raised basement and an attic level. The gabled roof, with multiple dormers, is steeply pitched. On the façade, a central entry tower rises to a height of more than 160 feet.